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Weapons Restrictions: Possession of Firearms

What Does it Mean to Hunters and Hunting in Oregon?

In 1995, Oregon Legislators adopted Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 166.170 giving all authority to regulate possession of firearms solely to the Oregon Legislative Assembly.

  • In 2003, the Oregon Attorney General reviewed the statute and determined the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) cannot limit what firearms can be carried or possessed during hunting seasons.
  • In the same opinion, the Oregon Attorney General confirmed that the Commission has statutory authority to regulate where, when, how and by whom wildlife are taken by hunting.
  • All ODFW hunting regulations and Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) have been modified to comply with these changes concerning the possession of firearms during hunting seasons.
  • The Commission still determines the season dates, open hunt areas, bag limits, and tag numbers for game species.
  • The Commission still determines the weapon type that can be legally used to hunt during a specified season.

Requirements for weapons used to hunt with are independent of any weapon(s) the individual hunter may choose to carry while in the field hunting. Regulations regarding when a person may hunt for a particular species also still apply. For example, these regulations state that it is not legal to hunt with a centerfire or muzzleloading rifle without a valid unused deer or elk tag for that time period and area on the person during eastern Oregon buck deer seasons and many of the standard elk seasons (see HUNTING PROHIBITED on page 28 for the exact rule language). Fast Facts about Firearms Possession (pdf)

CENTERFIRE FIREARMS
SPECIES AND SEASON
Rifle
Handgun
Shotgun (any barrel)
.22 cal. or larger .24 cal. or larger .22 cal. or larger .24 cal. or larger #1 buck or larger Slugs only
BLACK BEAR & COUGAR
General or controlled seasons
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
PRONGHORN
Rifle
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Muzzleloader (slugs only)
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
BUCK DEER
General or Controlled
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Muzzleloader(#1 or larger buckshot. slugs)
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
600 Series Deer Hunts*
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
ELK
General or controlled rifle
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
YES
Muzzleloader (slugs only)
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
OTHER
BIGHORN SHEEP and ROCKY MT GOAT
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
WESTERN GRAY SQUIRREL Any rifle; handgun; shotgun; muzzleloading firearm; or long, recurve or compound bow.

OTHER WEAPONS
SPECIES AND SEASON
Muzzleloading Firearm
Archery
any .40 cal. or larger .40 cal . or larger; open or peep sights & open ignition any .50 cal. or larger .50 cal. or larger; open or peep sights & open ignition 40 lb. or greater recurve, long or compound bow 50 lb. or greater recurve, long or compound bow
BLACK BEAR & COUGAR
General or controlled seasons
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
PRONGHORN
Rifle
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Muzzleloader (slugs only)
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
YES
YES
BUCK DEER
General or controlled rifle
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Muzzleloader(#1 or larger buckshot. slugs)
NO
YES
NO
YES
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
YES
YES
600 Series Deer Hunts*
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
ELK
General or controlled rifle
NO
NO
YES
YES
NO
YES
Muzzleloader (slugs only)
NO
NO
NO
YES
NO
NO
Archery
NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
YES
OTHER
BIGHORN SHEEP and ROCKY MT GOAT
NO
NO
YES
YES
NO
YES
WESTERN GREY SQUIRREL Any rifle; handgun; shotgun; muzzleloading firearm; or long, recurve or compound bow.
* Except during 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restiction of shotgun/muzzleoader only or archery/muzzleloader only.
NOTE: Some hunts and areas have specific weapon restrictions; consult hunt tables and descriptions for other restrictions.

LEGAL HUNTING METHODS
UPLAND GAME BIRDS, MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS AND CROWS
FIREARMS
ARCHERY
FALCONRY
Rifle or Handgun 1 Shotgun 2
(see definition below)
Muzzleloading
(Rifle or pistol)
Recurve, Long and
Compound Bow 3,4
Crossbow Hawk or Falcon
(see page 20 of the Game Bird Regs)
NO YES NO YES NO YES
  1. Rimfire firearms are allowed for the hunting of forest grouse only.

  2. Shotgun: A smooth bore firearm, including muzzleloaders, designed for firing birdshot and intended to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel length of 18 inches or more, with an overall length of 26 inches or more.

    • No one may hunt game birds with a shotgun larger than 10 gauge.
    • No one may hunt game birds with a shotgun which can hold more than three shells.
    • It is unlawful to hunt wild turkeys with shotguns larger than 10 gauge or smaller than 20 gauge or with shot size larger than No. 2.

  3. There are no restrictions on the type of arrows or broadheads which may be used to hunt game birds.

  4. Hunters may not use any electronic device(s) attached to bow or arrow.

SHOT RESTRICTIONS:
  • Any shot larger than BB may not be used to hunt game birds except for steel shot size no larger than F. See above for exceptions for wild turkey. Tracer shells may not be used to hunt game birds. For a list of current federally-approved nontoxic shot, please visit www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/currentbirdissues/nontoxic.htm or call USFWS law enforcement at
    503-521-5300.

  • Toxic shot restrictions are listed where appropriate under federal refuges, state refuges, state WAs and regulated hunt areas. In addition, the possession and use of shot other than federally-approved nontoxic shot is always prohibited while hunting waterfowl, snipe and coots. Coatings of copper, nickel, tin, zinc, zinc chloride and zinc chrome on approved nontoxic shot types are approved.

General Provisions

Centerfire Firearm

  • Fully automatic firearms prohibited.

  • Semiautomatic rifles with a magazine capacity greater than five cartridges prohibited (except for western gray squirrel).

  • Military or full-metal jacket bullets in original or altered form prohibited.

  • Hunters may use any muzzleloader with any ignition type, except matchlock, any legal sight, any propellant, or any bullet type during centerfire firearm seasons, provided the weapon meets caliber restriction for the species.

Shotgun

  • Shotgun is a smooth bore firearm, designed for firing bird shot, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel length of 18 inches or more, and with an overall length of 26 inches or more.

  • Shotguns equipped with rifled slug barrels are considered shotguns when used for hunting pronghorn, bear, cougar, deer, or elk when centerfire rifles or shotguns are legal weapons.

Muzzleloader

  • Scopes (permanent and detachable), and sights that use batteries, artificial light or energy are not allowed during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only, except for visually impaired hunters who have a visual acuity of ≤ 20/200 with lenses or visual field of ≤ 20 degrees (a permit is required; please see page 86). Open and peep sights made from alloys, plastic, or other materials that do not have the properties described above are legal sights. Fiber optics and fluorescent paint incorporated into or on open or iron sights are legal.

  • It is illegal to hunt with on-lead bullets, jacketed bullets, sabots, and bullets with plastic or synthetic bases during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only. Conical lead or lead alloy bullets with a length that does not exceed twice the diameter and lead or lead alloy round balls used with cloth, paper, or felt patches are allowed.

  • It is illegal to hunt with centerfire primers as an ignition source during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only.

  • It is illegal to hunt with pelletized powders or propellants during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only. Granular (loose) black powder and black powder substitutes are the only legal propellants during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only.

  • No other firearm may be used for hunting during a muzzleloader-only season (See definition page 10 or regulations book).

  • Muzzleloading firearms with revolving actions are prohibited during muzzleloader-only seasons and 600 series hunts where there is a weapon restriction of shotgun/muzzleloader only or archery/muzzleloader only.

Archery

  • Broadhead blades must be fixed, unbarbed, and at least 7/8” wide (except for western gray squirrel). It is illegal to hunt with or possess mechanical or moveable blade broadheads when hunting game mammals except Western gray squirrel.

  • Beginning in 2006, there is no restriction limiting the maximum let-off for compound bows used for hunting in Oregon; since 1990, let off had been restricted to no more than 65%.

  • No device secured to or supported by a bow may be used to maintain the bow at full draw.

  • No electronic devices may be attached to bow or arrow.

  • No device that supports or guides the arrow from a point rearward of the bow string when the bow is at rest (undrawn) may be secured to or supported by a bow’s riser. Overdraws meeting this restriction are legal during archery seasons.
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